Update May 15, 2008: Dymphna at Gates of Vienna blog has an excellent post on this same story here.
A story from St. Cloud, Minnesota, concerns a student who dropped out of his teacher-training program because his service dog was threatened. Who might have done the threatening? Here’s hint #1: The school district calls it a misunderstanding. Oh, there it is, down in the tenth paragraph:
The threat came from a Somali student who is Muslim, according to Hurd, St. Cloud State and school district officials.
Probably a refugee; there are a lot of Somali refugees in Minnesota. Not all of them are so hostile:
The Muslim faith, which is the dominant faith of Somali immigrants, forbids the touching of dogs.
Hurd trained at Talahi Community School and Tech. He said his experience at Talahi was good. The Somali students there warmed to the dog and eventually petted him using paper to keep their hands off his fur, Hurd said.
Things didn’t go as well at Tech, Hurd said. Students there taunted his dog, and he finally felt he had to leave after he was told a student made a threat. Hurd met with Lockhart but said he did not feel comfortable continuing.
Of course, both sides are at fault, the threatener and the dog owner.
Julia Espe, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for St. Cloud school district, said the school needed to do a better job communicating.
“I think it was a misunderstanding where we didn’t really prepare either side for possible implications,” Espe said.
Espe said the school’s investigation determined the student did not make a direct threat.
What kind of threat did he make that caused the dog-owning student to leave?
Steffens said it is important to respect different cultures and the rights of disabled students.
“I think this is part of the growth process when we become more diverse,” Steffens said.
Yes, we have to respect the Somalis’ right to taunt a dog. Why don’t they just tell the Muslim students that in America we do not tolerate mistreatment of dogs or of dog owners? Oh, that wouldn’t be sensitive.